It’s been five years since Dani Dance and Rich Maile first conceived the idea of the Singlespeed Cyclocross World Championships, and cyclocross in general and singlespeed specifically has grown quite a bit in the following years. After three years in Portland, and another in Seattle, a San Francisco crew, led by promoter Murphy Mack and apparel maker Sheila Moon, landed the event, after an unsuccessful attempt to bring the SSCXWC to the Bay Area for 2010.
As the event has aged, has it matured? Cyclocross Magazine has participated in each event, and although the number of participants has grown and the location has gone from a remote park outside Portland to one of the biggest urban parks in the nation (Golden Gate park), for the majority of participants, the event still remains a less-than-serious, costume-laden, crowd-pleasing and beverage-consuming affair that offers a splendid slice of cyclocross culture that highlights cyclocross and singlepseeding’s appeal to the urban and wattage-agnostic crowd.
SSCXWC 2011 Race Highlights and Aerial Coverage Video:
At the front, one could argue that the event and its increased attention have attracted increased talent and more serious racing, especially on the women’s side. Although the most stacked men’s field may still be the 2007 event with Ryan Trebon, Barry Wicks, Adam Craig and Carl Decker, these top racers stopped for tequila shots and soft pedaled laps, without an attempt to sprint for the win. The women’s field in 2007? Just over a dozen racers, with Wendy Williams taking the win while having to navigate through the men’s field.
Fast forward to 2011, and racers from Rapha-Focus hop on a quick flight to attempt to bring home a few world titles, and a separate women’s field attracted nearly 100 racers and no less than six former national and world champion title holders. While most were in full costumes, at the front, the racing was mostly a heads-down, all-out affair.
Recent wet weather turned a typically-sandy Golden Gate course into a slippery, muddy course worthy of any national championship, albeit one with some interesting obstacles. Four different three-foot-high logs brought Bay Area “jungle cross” back to the forefront, and a knee-high water pool created a crowd-pleasing opportunity for racer interaction and diverse hand-ups. The most head-scratching (literally) obstacle was a low-hanging platform that rung the cowbell of several racers, including contender Aaron Bradford and Cyclocross Magazine’s Andrew Yee.
In the women’s race, former national champion Devon Gorry (Rambuski Law) grabbed the holeshot in the Le Mans-style start, holding that lead through the giant tree barriers, with France’s Julie Krazniak (Rapha Focus – in a “I Love Weiners” kit) and Mary McConneloug (Kenda – NoTubes – Seven) chasing. Not far behind was a less serious, but no less accomplished group that included fully costumed and recently retired Barb Howe and Rachel Lloyd. The front three quickly stretched out a lead on the first lap, entering the “Pool of Filth” water pit together, with Gorry emerging out of the crowd-lined pit in front after Krazniak and McConneloug fell when jumping into the deep pool.
Video highlights of Women’s Staging and Race Highlights:
Video of First Barrier of Unusual Size:
Soon Krazniak escaped her companions, growing her gap while hoisting her newly-built Focus Mares singlespeed over three-foot logs and up a 100 foot-long run up. In the muddy conditions, she put her Portland and France-honed mud skills to good use, sliding around the slick, hidden root-laden course in a rush to cross the finish line one last time. Behind her, Gorry, McConneloug, and a hard-chasing Howe started to close in with faster third and fourth laps. Krazniak kept her lead, but barely, in her mad dash to the finish. Why the rush? Besides the allure of a Golden Speedo and and a SSCXWC 2011 tattoo, Krazniak had a 5pm flight back to France, and would need a quick fitting for her new Golden Speedo.
In the men’s race, 150 racers lined up for the main event, after successfully qualifying through Saturday’s qualifying heats or via pixie cross races at Saturday’s party. Although both Rapha-Focus’ Chris Jones and Jeremy Powers were listed on the start list, Jones was the sole team representative, hoping to keep his recent unbeaten streak at Golden Gate park alive. Other notable hopefuls making the final cut included mountain bike pro Michael Broderick (Kenda – NoTubes – Seven), defending champ Drew Mackenzie, Raleigh’s Craig Etheridge, and top locals including Krishna Dole (Sheila Moon), Aaron Bradford and Scott Chapin (both Rock Lobster / Bay101) and Don Myrah (Buy Cell.com / Ibis).
Promoters sent the entire men’s field down below the slippery long run-up for another Le Mans start, and the intentional bottleneck quickly strung out the field by the time racers were on their bikes.
Video of Men’s Le Mans Start:
Half a lap into the race, pro cyclocross fans saw a familiar sight—a Rapha-Focus jersey powering off the front, only this time it was Jones defending his perfect record of three wins in a row at Golden Gate park. Behind, Dole and Broderick led the chase, but it was futile. Jones displayed his UCI cyclocross pedigree, powering through the course with grace and class, quickly expanding his lead and rapidly lapping a large portion of the field. He politely weaved his way through a hundred lapped racers on his way to the championship win and the Golden Speedo, causing several lapped participants to call Jones “the nicest pro to ever to lap me.”
Jones, who lives in Auburn, Calif., a 90-minute drive from San Francisco, is no stranger to racing in San Francisco, but didn’t plan his season to include a singlespeed championship. Jones told Cyclocross Magazine, “this came together pretty last minute, I didn’t know if I could make it but Rapha really wanted us here.” Even singlespeed racing was new for Jones. “My first ride on this bike was today…the head mechanic just chose a gear for me, I think it’s a 42×17.”
With the two winners racing off to catch flights, a full podium presentation didn’t happen, and with temperatures dropping and darkness approaching, racers and fans scattered for the after-party or to clean up the aftermath of the day’s adventure. Another SSCXWC has passed, quite possibly the highlight of the season for many racers not planning on a trip to Madison or Louisville.
Where will SSCXWC 2012 be held? Cyclocross Magazine‘s sources says it’s going to be in Santa Cruz, home of the original jungle cross. Stay tuned.
Full results below the galleries. Check back soon for additional videos and photos!
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